The spaniel group of dogs is made up of a large number of dogs. The most common type of spaniel is the Cocker Spaniel (English and Amercian), the Springer Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The common factor of the Spaniels is that they are hunting or gun dogs. They were breed to work for the hunter in a variety of tasks including flushing game, pointing on game and retrieving game from the shrub or water. They are further divided into land spaniels and water spaniels.
What sets them apart from other breeds of gun dog is their versatility and utility. They are a Jack of all trades. This is not to say they are a Master of none. They are highly intelligent, are keen to work for their handler and are physically adept.
Even the pet spaniel, even if not being be used for hunting, has these traits and requires a reasonable amount of exercise. They need physical exercise for their overall health and well being and mental exercise to prevent boredom and the problem behaviors this can lead to.
This guideline for Spaniel exercise relates to adult dogs. The exercise requirements for puppies are different as they are still growing and care must be taken to avoid injury. Read “Exercise for a puppy” to learn more
How much exercise does a Cocker Spaniel need
Which strain of Cocker Spaniel
With Cocker Spaniels, it is important to know that there are two distinct strains within the breed. The show strain (or show type) and the working strain (often referred to as Working Cockers or Field Cockers). Each stain is bred for different purposes with different attributes.
Working Cockers, as the name implies, are bred as working gundogs. They are capable of staying out all day hiking for long distances and swimming. However many are now being increasingly sold to homes as pets. They make ideal family pets preferably in an active home.
Show Cockers are bred for the show ring and appearance and meeting the show standard are the main goal. With working Cockers working ability has top priority.
Whatever the strain they are busy, active little dogs with minds of their own. However, a Working Cocker may be considerably more active than some show Cockers and have enormous reserves of stamina. He can be on the go all day and still be ready for more. A show-type dog can also be energetic and will happily go for long country walks but will probably be easier to tire out. This is why it is important to know which group your Cocker Spaniel comes from.
Most Cocker Spaniels will be happy with a walk of 30 to 45 minutes once or twice a day. As much time as possible exploring off lead is best. Once the nose hits the ground they will want to go where it leads them. This is important for the mental enrichment of a spaniel.
In addition, playtime in the garden every four hours and mental stimulation to prevent boredom. If from a working stain they may require some extra activity to tire them such as fetch or similar play.
Most Cocker Spaniels are also very keen swimmers. In fact, they can be hard to keep out of the water. Swimming is an ideal exercise as it burns energy fast and is a no-impact activity that doesn’t put a strain on the joints and bones and builds and maintains muscle. For more on swimming exercise for dogs see here.
For a full guide to Cocker Spaniel exercise see here.
How much exercise does a Springer Spaniel need
Springer Spaniels are traditionally a hunting or gun dog and would “spring” towards birds to flush them into the air. The breed continues to maintain this excitable personality even as a favorite family dog, and are among the fastest of the Spaniels thanks to its long-legged build.
Springer Spaniels are very energetic and capable of working tirelessly all day. As a result, they need at least 1 – 2 hours of exercise per day. Walks for a springer spaniel should be 30-45 minutes long, with a couple of longer walks each week. Ideally, it will include wooded or brushland areas where he can have a hunt around. This will help provide the mental stimulation and work with their natural instinct as a hunting dog. Mental stimulation can help tire a dog as much as physical exercise.
To learn more read “Mental enrichment and mind stimulation for dogs”
Activities that relate to their natural instinct such as retrieving and nose and scenting games are also a benefit in providing much needed mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose tracking games” for some good ideas.
Although retrieving is a good way of concentrating their exercise with short sprints, the springer is not a sprinting dog. They are bred for endurance either at a walk or gentle trot, so you too will need to put in the walking hours.
Like the Cocker Spaniel, the Springer is often a very keen swimming. Providing the opportunity to go for swims will be a good way to tire them without putting extra stress on joints and tendons. For more on swimming exercise for dogs see here.
How much exercise does a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel need
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a popular companion dog. They are a devoted and lovable dog and do thrive on human contact. Although they are not as high energy as the Cocker Spaniel and Springer Spaniels they are still a spaniel. Therefore, they may still need a reasonable amount of daily exercise. A 30-minute walk once or twice a day is recommended. When you walk your Cavalier near a road, make sure to put it on a leash. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is known for its lack of road sense and would readily run into the path of oncoming vehicles if it were chasing something.
In addition to the daily walks, free play in the backyard or playing with toys is recommended. As they are keen on human contact, playing with people will please them no end.